ST. PAUL – With just days left in the 2016 legislative session, State Representative Tim Miller (R-Prinsburg) expects proposals on transportation, tax relief, and capital investment to quickly come together.
“The long-term transportation proposal is key, as it will ultimately impact our tax relief and bonding proposals,” Miller said. “Legislative leaders are beginning to move towards compromise, and once the road and bridge proposal is completed I expect the other two will quickly fall into place.”
The obvious obstacle in transportation is determining a multi-billion dollar, long-term funding source. The House has approved legislation that would dedicate tax revenue that is being or has already been collected from state taxpayers, while the Senate passed a bill that would raise your cost of gasoline by a minimum of 16-cents per gallon.
Miller said an important step for House and Senate leadership, as well as Governor Dayton, is to agree on a budget target for transportation. This includes determining how much of Minnesota’s projected $900 million surplus to use on road and bridge infrastructure. Once that has been decided, lawmakers can then debate how much of the remaining surplus can be used for items such as tax relief.
Miller said if a significant amount of the surplus is going to be used for transportation, less will likely be appropriated for roads and bridges in the capital investment bill. That means more money would be available for other construction projects of statewide significance.
Miller said he continues to work behind the scenes, lobbying other lawmakers to support a transportation funding proposal without gas tax increases, providing tax relief to farmers and Main Street business owners, and accepting a provision that would fund veterans’ homes in Montevideo and Bemidji.
“The most important thing to remember is that all sides are talking and want a successful end to session,” Miller said. “I’m hopeful that in the coming days we will work out our differences and find common ground on our state’s most pressing issues.”